The following article originally appeared in the 2009 edition of Abroadly Speaking, a magazine about international study and travel produced by students and supported by the Study Abroad Office.
Major: Chemical engineering
Study abroad program: International Engineering Education (IEE), Singapore
Location: Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
My curiosity was at the helm, leading me through the streets of Malaysia’s capital — Kuala Lumpur. Dominating the skyline, the Petronas Towers are a flex of Malaysian muscle asking the world for recognition.
With an emerging economy, Malaysia is one of the most diverse countries in Asia, mixing Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures and running the gamut of religions, languages and — we must not forget — food.
My curiosity first directed me to seek an exchange program. The engineering study abroad adviser helped me decide on the National University of Singapore. Singapore, a small city-state, was the perfect place to spend my spring semester last year. I was able to communicate with Singaporeans in English and enroll in upper-division engineering classes that transferred back to UT with no hassle.
Upon arriving in Singapore, I quickly realized that the city was the hub of Southeast Asia. The city itself has a diversity matched with Malaysia. I resided in campus dorms and quickly bonded with my neighbors on the basis of cultural exchange.
The Western facade of the city quickly faded to reveal a complex Asian society. I gained exposure to many Chinese dialects, Islamic rituals and real Indian food.
What I learned outside the classroom did not even compare to what I learned within the lecture hall. As a hub, Singapore offers many opportunities beyond its tiny borders. Between study breaks, I easily traveled by bus, ferry or plane to a multitude of places, such as Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, further expanding my experience in an Eastern world completely different from my own.
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